I am a veteran and I have a disability. Am I eligible for veteran's benefits?
There are several different benefits that the VA pays to veterans with disabilities.
Disability Compensation (Service-connected)
Disability compensation is a benefit the VA pays to veterans because of injuries or disease that happened during active duty. VA may also pay benefits for a disease or injury you already had that got worse due to active military service, or if you became disabled because of VA health care. This benefit is tax free.
You may be eligible for disability compensation if:
- You have a service-related disability or illness
- Your discharge was not dishonorable
How will VA decide if I can get disability compensation?
The VA will decide based on a claim that you submit.
You might have more than one disabling condition, for example back pain, ringing in the ears, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The VA will assign a rating from 0% to 100% for each condition.
They base this rating on the evidence you turn in with your claim. Sometimes the VA may also ask you to have an exam to help rate your disability.
You should provide evidence to support your claim. You could include:
- Medical records about your claimed condition from VA and non-VA doctors and hospitals
- Written statements from family, friends, coworkers, clergy, or law enforcement personnel who know about how and when your disability happened or how it got worse
- Your military records that show the injury or event happened while you were in service
To get disability compensation, you must be able to show three things:
- That an event/injury occurred in service
- You have medical records without more than a one-year break showing treatment for the same disability from the event to now
NOTE: If you do not have records that show this, then you need to show a connection between your condition and your military service. You can show a connection by obtaining a letter from any doctor that says the event in service is at least as likely than not (50% probability or greater) the cause of the same disability you suffer from now; and
- You are currently receiving treatment to show you continue to suffer from the disability
This benefit is tax-free and is payable to low-income wartime veterans.
You may be eligible for the Veterans Pension if you:
1. Meet the minimum service requirements
- If you entered active duty before September 7, 1980, you need at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period
- If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period
- Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters
- World War I: April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918
- World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
- Korean conflict: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
- Vietnam era: February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period
- Vietnam era: August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation
2. Qualify under the VA’s criteria for disability, which means you are:
- Age 65 or older, OR
- Totally and permanently disabled, OR
- A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
3. Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Veterans Pension benefit
- Learn more information on this amount and how the VA calculates your income on benefits.va.gov.
Upcoming Legal Clinics
Apply for Services
If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.